Agriculture and local economic development : a case study of the uMshwathi Local Municipality.
Local economic development (LED) is a process encompassing the mobilisation of resources for competitive advantage by locally-owned or managed courses of action, identified through participation and social dialogue, in a strategically defined territory. Local economic development based on sound economic and business principles can contribute to economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation. Government policy has accorded prominence to agriculture. LED in South Africa is mandated to local municipalities and a challenge is to identify LED strategies that combine a pro-growth (market-led), with a pro-poor (market-critical) dimension. The present study reviews the literature on local economic development and analyses mainly secondary data in the case study on the Local Municipality of uMshwathi (District Municipality of uMgungundlovu, KwaZulu-Natal). Theories are applied and tested in the case study and the research objectives focus on the development, implementation and growth of all-inclusive job creation LED strategies in uMshwathi, using local resources and skills, able to generate partnerships and respond to changing circumstances. uMshwathi residents suffer from unemployment, poor functional literacy and poverty. The potential role of agriculture in the acceleration of local economic development in uMshwathi is confirmed. A grand strategy and functional strategies are proposed. Agricultural land is of a high potential and smallholder and organic farming are practicable. Findings show the presence of locational development-inducing factors. LED suffers from the Municipality‘s lack of capacity and there is uncertainty between social and economic policy objectives. There is no provincial strategy in place to use the Dube TradePort Corporation as a platform for targeted economic development of the agricultural sector. The Ingonyama Trust and associated land issues need to be urgently addressed. Horizontal and vertical cooperation and coordination between stakeholders is essential. Professional LED practitioners should be employed in all LED Units. The establishment of an Agricultural Forum in uMshwathi, and an LED Agency in the uMgungundlovu District, is recommended. Networks must be established with Agricultural Unions and significant stakeholders. The implementation of a strategy for agriculture development with a focus on exporting through the Dube TradePort Corporation is deemed necessary.
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